Dr. Amy Merrill is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Southern California. Her lab studies craniofacial development and disease. Dr. Merrill uses mouse and avian models to examine how disease-associated genetic variants impact development of skeletal tissues such as cartilage, bone, tendon, and ligament. The craniofacial skeleton supports complex functions and shape of the face. The goal of these studies, therefore, is to reveal the basis of craniofacial differences in congenital skeletal diseases.
Dr. Rolf Stottmann is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics in the Institute for Genomic Medicine at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the Department of Pediatrics in the Ohio State University School of Medicine. His interests are in the genetics and molecular mechanisms of congenital malformations in the developing face and brain. Dr. Stottmann uses a combination of genetic approaches including sequencing human pediatric cohorts as well as creating mouse models to identify candidate disease genes. The ability to model precise human genetic variants with genome editing in the mouse has revolutionized our ability to test hypotheses about causes of structural birth defects. Specific interests of the lab currently include genes important for primary cilia function, tubulins, sterol biosynthesis and GPI-anchor synthesis/remodeling.
Dr David Clouthier is a Professor in the Department of Craniofacial Biology at the University of Colorado. His lab studies the molecular and cellular mechanisms driving normal facial and heart morphogenesis. Neural crest cells, originating from the junction of the neural and non-neural ectoderm, give rise to most of the face and portions of the cardiovascular system. Dr Clouthier uses mouse and zebrafish models to dissect the signaling cascades regulating neural crest cell patterning and determine how perturbation of these pathways effect normal embryonic development. This information informs the genetic basis of human birth defect syndromes.
Dr. Jean-Pierre Saint-Jeannet is a Professor and Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Basic Science and Craniofacial Biology at New York University College of Dentistry. His research explores the cellular and molecular mechanisms regulating neural crest and cranial placode progenitors formation in normal and pathological situations, using the frog Xenopus laevis as a model system. Dr. Saint-Jeannet has served on numerous NIH and NSF study sections . He is the editor of a book “Neural Crest Induction and Differentiation” (Springer, 2006), and the guest editor of a recent special issue of genesis “Celebrating 150 Years of Neural Crest Research”.